Pastries: The Newest Danger in Iraq

So this isn't going to be me harping about the asinine war in Iraq. And regardless of my feelings about the war, I do have a lot of respect for the men and women who put themselves in harm's way for us. And almost as much anger about the lack of appropriate medical and psychiatric care when they return as I do about the war.

With that said...

I stumbled across a headline in the news feed on the right-hand side of the page that said "Troops in Iraq getting fat at mess halls."

Uh-oh. Now that Saddam is safely out of the way, we can spend our time on more important subjects.

The article begins thusly:

Across Iraq, in dining halls the size of football fields, under glaring fluorescent lights, the array of food assaults the senses.

Pastries fill a glass case and troops can have all they want.

Servers scoop ice cream every day at lunch and dinner.

And good luck fitting a vegetable on your plate after asking for a pork chop and receiving two, followed by a fist-sized heap of mashed potatoes or hush puppies. If there is room for that vegetable, butter drips from the broccoli and carrots shine in sweet sauce.

Breakfast? You can have omelets, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, grits, French toast or all of the above.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Soldiers can have...donuts? That's a crime! A nutritional crime!!!

Or it's the obesity police once again going haywire. Though in this case, it would be the obesity military police.

Is that a danish there, Sergeant?
No, no, really- I can explain!
Those things are forbidden!
I-I-I was using it to grease my rifle.
Your butt looks fat in camouflage.

And so on.

The imagery in the article is quite funny ("dining halls the size of football fields"), as if a large mess tent means more food. Or maybe it's just that there's a lot of people there. Ya think? Add that to the fact that- I don't know if I can believe it- soldiers get to- hold onto your hats, kids- decide how much they want to eat. So you're qualified enough to use a machine gun, drive a tank, and arrest people, but you can't decide what you're hungry for.

We must do something about that. Must. Do something. About that.

A nutritionist for the Army says "service members tended to lose weight on deployments, for a simple reason: "MREs don't taste very good." " Right, so now boot camp should be fat camp? They'd probably get more recruits that way, though lasting weight loss may only be achieved through catastrophic injury and amputation.

The article goes on, blaming more of the standard victims: fast food and mothers.
In a country where every day seems the same for troops confined to bases with few recreational opportunities, the D-Fac (dining facility) serves as a highlight. But for young service members who grew up on fast food and were constantly told by their mothers to eat everything on their plates, good morale can quickly turn bad as they watch their stomachs grow, their energy levels shrink and their self-esteem head south- not to mention what too much fat can do to promotion points.

Who cares that your tour of duty has been extended (again)- you have a potbelly! Get thee to a Weight Watchers, boy!

I mean, really. There are far more serious things to worry about. The nutritionists there say that even if a soldier is burning up those calories on patrol, he could still mess up his cholesterol level. Frankly, stress does that, too, and I'm sure the phenomenal stress these men and women are under will do more to screw up their cardiovascular systems than a nightly bucket of fried chicken.

And in a place like Iraq, any meal could be your last. Why suffer from "a "healthy options" bar that always has baked chicken and baked fish, with no sauce."? Don't think that would be tempting me very much, to be really honest. Who can stomach baked chicken with no sauce?

Oh yeah- me. In my anorexic days. Though I would at least put mustard or something on it.

So let them eat donuts. It's the least we can do.

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Anonymous said...

Man, no kidding. Let our troops eat, for cryin' out loud - it's one of the few pleasures they have while they're in the line of fire. A few added pounds is the least of their worries.

On the other hand, the psychology major in me says, "But what if some soldiers get in habit of looking forward to food too much — to the point of a food addiction?" That's not good, of course, but again, that's the least of anybody's worries while lives are in danger. Heck, that's the least of a soldier's mental health dangers, period!

carrie said...


I did think of that, and there is an inherent danger in that. On the other hand, crappy food isn't the solution. But like you said, that's far from a soldier's biggest concerns.

Or we could just lob the fried chicken at the Iraqis...

mary said...

I'm just happy to hear that they are eating so well as military food is generally known to be YUCK.
I AM addicted to food. I eat it everyday. LOL
I worry more that they will return depressed and turn to drugs and drinking.: (

You'd think with all the news in the world that food, our weight, and diets would be last on the list of topics.

disordered girl said...

OMG, I think the word "hysteria" really does apply to the fat phobia this society had. *shakes head*

Harriet said...

Let's see . . . they can risk their lives every day in a foreign country, but they shouldn't be allowed to eat a doughnut or French toast?


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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